Thinking about mortality

Not a fun subject. Sorry. Also likely to ramble. If you were expecting funny, skip this one.

My brother has cancer, which sucks enormously. Dealing with this is hard – on me, on him, on our mom, on my wife and my kids… basically, dealing with death is something humans suck at.

My friend Laurie lost her mom three years ago. She was hit by a distracted driver. I think about that every time I get into the car, and I promise myself I will keep my attention on the road. That won’t bring Laurie’s mom back, of course, but it’s a little thing I can do to remember her and to try to make her death matter.

I don’t know how I can do that for my brother. I don’t know what I can do to try to deal with this.

In a way, I’m lucky – Laurie didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to her mom. We’re all in this world for a limited time, and very few of us get to see our deaths coming. That doesn’t make it any easier. I don’t feel lucky. I just feel sad, and cheated of what I was going to get, and fearful of what a world without my brother will be like.

He’s smart, and he’s funny, and he’s talented, and I love him very much. He’s got the most wicked sense of humor, and he’s an incredibly talented musician, and the world will be so much smaller without him in it.

I talked to my minister today – Victoria Safford at White Bear UU. She’s an incredible speaker, and a really genuinely empathetic person, and it was really good to get a chance to talk to someone that I wasn’t trying to take care of. It’s odd at this stage in my life that I have a minister, and that I have a church. I hadn’t expected to have those things, or to need them, but I am very glad that I have them in my life. Victoria suggested that I take some time every day to get in touch with my grief, because it will be with me forever. I’m going to have to learn to live with it. And to live without my brother.

I don’t know how long we have left. I hope it’s a long while. I fear it’s not. I try not to show that fear, because I want my brother to to keep his spirits up, and to enjoy the time he has. I try not to let my grief overwhelm me, because then I’m no good to anyone. So I stay busy – which is not to say productive, because when you’re trying to avoid something, you do whatever is in front of you, because thinking about what to do can lead to thinking about the exact things you’re trying to avoid thinking about. Sigh.

I love you, Mike. Stick around a while, okay? I’m not done with you yet. There’s nobody else that really gets my jokes.

Thomas Dolby at the Cedar 4/6/2012 (in the American style of dates)

I spent last Friday not gaming, but going to see Thomas Dolby at the Cedar.

Was it worth giving up gaming night? Yes, for two reasons.

First, it was a really good show.


The opening act, bluegrass duo Aaron Jonah Lewis and Ben Belcher, played with considerable skill and a lot of heart, and gave me my favorite moment of the evening. If you have not heard Timing X on fiddle and banjo, you have not truly heard Timing X, even if you’ve heard Devo play it live, which I have. Dolby’s drummer (whose name I cannot recall, which is a shame, because he was excellent) snuck in behind the duo to provide drum accompaniment, which made it even more awesome.

Grade: A. One of the best opening acts I have seen. Paul and Storm are the other contender for “best opener ever.”

Dolby himself put on a great show. As in his Sole Inhabitant tour (which I did not get to see, but have seen video from), one some tracks he built the base of the song in layers, before kicking in along with his guitarist and drummer. Whose names, again, I cannot recall, which annoys me. Be better at being searchable, Internet!

Dolby’s son Graham Robertson (because Thomas Dolby is actually Thomas Robertson when he’s not on stage, as I understand) took over the drums for a couple of songs, which was very cool. It must be very strange and very cool to be a kid (born 1995, Graham must be 16 or 17) playing music with your dad, who originally recorded this song well before you were born. I know Alex sometimes has difficulty understanding that I was ever anyone but “Dad” and the idea of me as a teenager is just weird to him.

The music was excellent, the band was having fun and it was great to see the Cedar packed and Dolby selling out a venue.

Second, I got to spend the night hanging out with my brother Mike, which is a really high priority for me right now.

So yeah, totally worth it. Sorry, D&D gang. I love you all, but my brother wins. And come on, Thomas Dolby. You should have been there.